I’m healthy and ready for work, so just try me

I’m very healthy, feeling good and I’ve been sober for 12 weeks. I’m ready to get out there and give something back, so I need to work more.

I’m not physically fit like when I was playing, but in terms of my addictions I’m in a good place!

I work for Crystal Palace at every home game. I keep myself busy with walks to exercise my foot and I enjoy talking to the public and fans when I’m out and about.

I enjoy talking to supporters at Palace on match-days, but I want to keep myself busy with work, to keep myself well. Please email me with any work offers.

There’s lots of things I can do. Birthdays, shop openings, presentation nights, golf days. These are the sorts of things I’d be delighted to do and I’m open to all good ideas. So just give me a try, I won’t bite!

I’m always delighted to have photos taken with people and to sign whatever you like. The fans are the game of football. They make the game, off the pitch.

I enjoy talking so I want to get out there and do talks, at schools, Q&A evenings at amateur football clubs and social clubs. I’ve got so many good ideas for what will work on stage.

Ideas that will teach people about football and amuse you too, with some good laughs! I have a fantastic video of some career highlights, that I use to discuss ways for kids to improve their game.

It’s all about honesty for me: I’ll give honest answers to any questions. People might think of me as a famous footballer, but I am still just a person. I’m one of you, I just happened to play football!

I’d very much like to get back into media work too. I used to do regular spots on Sky Sports and others. I have a lot to offer, for TV and radio. Interviews, appearances on panels or as a guest, I’m up for anything.

I’m really keen to do more radio work, for stations anywhere, in the UK or abroad. The beauty of radio is that you can join a show on the telephone, you can do it from anywhere, but I’m willing to travel too. Last month I did a piece for Beyond The Pitch, which is based in the USA.

I also did a Facebook Live show recently for the Kenny and Kev Go Live Show, as a guest along with my old Arsenal teammate Steve Williams. Stevie and I had a fantastic laugh and I told some classic Bobby Robson stories.

Like when I was away with England in Uruguay in 1985. It was Montevideo, although Bobby called it Monte-video. The QPR striker Simon Stainrod was in the squad, I think because Gary Lineker was injured. While we were waiting for our luggage, Bobby nudged me and tapped me on the shoulder. “Kenny, who’s that?” “Simon Stainrod, boss.” “Did I pick him?” “Yeah, I think so.”

You can hear more stories like these, when you hire me for work! And all the stories are true! I know, because I was there!

I’d love to be involved at Palace – and England need a Plan B

I’m in a good place at the moment. I’m in Exeter and I want to start working again, I need to be busy. I want people to hear my story, from me. My words, my stories. I call it ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’! There’s a lot of good, a little bit of bad and a tiny bit of ugly. Although I can’t do a good Clint Eastwood impression and my shooting wasn’t as good as his either!

In terms of work, I’d like to do holiday camps over the summer, at places all over the south-west, like Torquay or Dawlish. I was at the Langstone Cliff Hotel in Dawlish over the weekend, it’s a nice place. I want to tell people my story, about my experience of life. I’d like to do all sorts of things, like shop openings, signing sessions and football tournaments, where I can give advice. I can do presentations, talks and visits to schools, if headmasters want to get in touch. For all ideas, just email me through my website.

I love to do presentations, so I can show everyone the DVD of my career and tell them my stories. You can buy my life story DVD directly from Midnight Productions and I plan to do some signing sessions for that in the south-west in the weeks ahead. Keep a look out and make sure you follow me on Twitter for the latest details. And all the stories are true. I know, because I was there!

I’m so pleased Palace stayed up. I knew they wouldn’t go down. I had faith, in the players and the management. The atmosphere at the Middlesbrough game was incredible, like old-fashioned football. The atmosphere was fantastic, from both sets of fans. I saw the last few minutes from the Directors’ Box and the tension was amazing. When I went inside to the restaurant, for the post-match talk, everyone was smiling. They didn’t need to say a word! Palace have a great chance to have a really good campaign next season and maybe have a good cup run. All fans enjoy that and Palace fans are the same.

I’m surprised Palace haven’t appointed a new manager yet. I was a bit taken aback that Big Sam left, but I respect his reasons. Personally, I‘d love to be involved and pass on my knowledge to the players. I know I can help. I was offered the Palace job once, a two-year contract, but let’s say I got a call later and the deal was off, which was a shame. I’d have loved it. I’d like to see an English manager at Palace. I’d like to see Glenn Hoddle there and for me to be around and give my input. I’ve got a lot of respect for Glenn and I’m a Palace man. And Arsenal of course! Mark Bright is there as an ambassador and I’d love to be involved in the training. I have lots of ideas of how to help. That would be a dream to me. I know I have knowledge, for how to win games and defending. I’d love to have that opportunity to do it for real.

Me with Glenn Hoddle - in our younger days!

Me with Glenn Hoddle – in our younger days!

Arsenal are usually consistent and they had some good results last season, like beating Chelsea 3-0, but they were very poor in other games. For the cup final, neutrals would have expected Chelsea to win the FA Cup, but Arsenal made them look an average side at Wembley. When you do that, it frightens teams. Arsene Wenger will want to prove a point next season. I think you’ll see a different Arsenal. Wenger will say that we’ll concentrate on the Premier League. He’ll mention not being in the Champions League and it could work out in Arsenal’s favour not to be in it.

With the way the season ended, I think Wenger will want to do something next season. I’d like to see him show the passion he did when he first joined the club. He knows he has a point to prove. He needs to keep key players – Sanchez, Chamberlain, Giroud and Ramsey. They’re four very good players. I’d like Giroud to be the main striker. Chamberlain is very important. If players aren’t performing, you tell them. If they’re doing well, you don’t drop them. Wenger used to hug his players. Mourinho used to do it, stick up for them. Conte did it and I think that is a secret with the players, the players can think “I want to do it for him next week”. Players need that.

England’s two recent matches in Scotland and France looked like two friendlies. I think there is more to come from these players. They should have gone at Scotland from the start. You look at the two free-kicks we conceded, we don’t seem to know our best goalkeeper. You need to trust your keeper. We have a very good attacking squad and we need to make the most of it. Players might say they are tired but players are fit. You want players to have a good attitude, even at the end of the season. I think we have a very good squad and there is more to come. I’m hoping that Gareth Southgate will make brave decisions. Play players in the right positions, doing the right things and they must have a Plan B. If your main plan is sussed, you can shout ‘Plan B!’ and everyone knows what it is and switches to it. Like you get half a yard of space and get crosses in from both wings and get Alli in for headers.

I was asked recently what my England goal celebration was. And I said “I don’t know’! I only scored once. It was a 5-0 World Cup qualifier, against Finland, at Wembley, in October 1984. We were 4-0 up and Bobby Robson told me we needed to keep scoring, because goal difference could be important. I threw the ball into midfield from the half-way line. Ray Wilkins played it out to Mark Chamberlain on the right, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s Dad. I kept running, literally to the penalty spot. I must have been about 14 yards out. The ball came across from Chamberlain. Mark Hateley took a swing at it with his right foot, but it went through his legs. And it came to me. I just swung my right foot at it – like a bad golfer – and it went in. But I didn’t know what to do! I just stood there! Then my teammates jumped on me! So I didn’t score many for my country, but at least I got one.

Palace must lift their game as Leicester might keep improving

Leicester’s players let down Claudio Ranieri. I’ve never been a manager, but the manager will always get the blame. In my day, if the players weren’t doing so well, the manager would get the sack. It was the chairman, then the manager, then the players. Now it’s different: it’s the players, owners second and the manager third. Yet he still gets the blame. If Leicester go on a run now, everyone will know it was the players. They’ll have let Ranieri down. There has to be something more to this story, much more. For some reason we don’t know, it was like Leicester’s players didn’t want to play for the manager any more.

Craig Shakespeare steered Leicester to a great win over Liverpool. What now if they win three games in a row? Should he get the job? I’m surprised that Roy Hodgson is in the mix to replace Ranieri. I thought Roy was poor in the summer as England manager. He was sat on the bench, when he could have been in the technical area, helping the team to improve. He wouldn’t be my choice to replace Ranieri. Nigel Pearson has respect at Leicester. Sometimes players respect coaching staff. Players have power, on and off the pitch. They might like Shakespeare. This happened at Chelsea, with Mourinho. The players lost respect after the incident with the physio. That’s player power! Sports people have a lot of power nowadays, as individuals and as a group.

The frightening thing for me is that if Leicester build on beating Liverpool, it’ll be bad for my old team Crystal Palace. Hopefully Palace will be lifted and the players will think “Hold on, if Leicester are doing well, we have to lift our game”. Palace are working hard. They worked very hard in the first half against Middlesbrough and the atmosphere in the second half was incredible. Every time Palace got the ball, the excitement was unbelievable. The tension and the atmosphere was amongst the best I’ve seen for some time. The moans and groans when Boro had the ball and the cheers when we did. The ref played maybe seven minutes of injury time and the tension was fantastic! I did the post-match chat in Speroni’s and everyone was buzzing, it was fantastic to see.

Palace have to go into every game and try to win. Single points are not enough. We have to beat the teams around us. West Brom away is next and our old boss Tony Pulis will have a big insight on Palace. He’s a bright manager, very experienced and he’ll target our weak spots. If we can get a 0-0 out of that, I’d be very pleased. The next game before the international break is Watford at home. If we can get four points from those two games, that’s what we’ve got to do. Try to make it solid, 1-0. We’ve got to make a statement in the next two games, because of the break, to show our rivals that we are hard to beat.

We need those four points because next is Chelsea and Southampton away and we have to stick ten men behind the ball and defend for our lives. It’s going to go to the end of the season, there’s no doubt about that in my mind. I don’t care what you have to put in front of the goal, do it! It comes to the point where you have to fight for your life. Every player must defend for their life. Hopefully we can get enough points out of those four games, that it helps to make us safe. Next after that will be Arsenal at home and Palace just have to hope that maybe a top team like Arsenal might have a nightmare. That’s what makes the Premier League such a brilliant league, the best in the world. Leicester have got something about them again now and all the teams around them will need to work twice as hard.

Palace’s last six games are a massive contrast. Three sides in relegation battles at home and three sides vying for Europe away! For your last six games you’d like teams that have nothing to play for. City and Utd won’t win the league now, Arsenal might be playing for second place by then. Hopefully some of the others might have gained some points too. It would be better for Palace if these sides have less to play for by the time we play them. It would be lovely if we could beat Leicester and Burnley at home! The next two games are obviously the important ones – West Brom and Watford – and we can’t think too far too ahead. I’ll do a blog nearer the time to discuss how things have gone, but Palace will need to take stock as they go along.

For Arsenal, it’s not been a good season. Chelsea will win the league. If we can finish second and win the FA Cup, I think most Arsenal fans will be happy with that. There’s a lot of talk about Wenger going and I think it’ll be a tough end to the season. Will Wenger go? It’s a huge decision for the club. If they had a massive run in the league they could win it, but realistically the Premier League and the Champions League are out of the question now. There’s unrest among Liverpool fans too and that’s football now: supporters keep behind the players. I’ve told the story before of how when Stuart Pearce was Man City manager he wanted to out a player for diving, but the City fans backed the player and they booed Pearce! Even though he was telling the truth!

In the Champions League, there’s one thing to say: the Arsenal players have something to prove. The first leg defeat in Germany has knocked the wind out of the players. They should be in the press before the second leg saying to the fans “We’re going to make this up to you”. And then if you win 2-0, you can turn round and say that you’ve done your bit. I think it’s all over completely as a tie. All the Arsenal players can do now is put on a performance for the fans.

Arsene Wenger has done a magnificent job at Arsenal, there’s no doubt about it, but all the excitement there used to be has gone. If Wenger is going to go, then it should be announced soon. If the new man was someone young, bring them in early and let them learn in what’s left of the season. Obviously that wouldn’t happen with a more experienced man, who could be challenging for honours elsewhere, but could with someone like Eddie Howe. We had a famous Don Howe, maybe Eddie could be similar. And if he could do half as well, that would be a great compliment to Don!

I was at Wembley Stadium recently, for a photoshoot to commemorate 50 years of the League Cup Final taking place there. It was fantastic and I remember very well lifting the trophy as captain for Arsenal in 1987. The win was remembered for it being the first time Liverpool lost when Ian Rush had scored. Charlie Nicholas scored two goals – two of the softest goals you’ll ever see! I got very emotional afterwards and I said in TV interviews that my medal was for my son Harry.

I chatted to the new England boss Gareth Southgate at the Wembley photoshoot and I said to him “how comes we don’t do throw-ons more quickly and give the ball away so much?” So if in England’s next games you can see that we are taking quick throw-ons and giving the ball away less, you can put that one down to me! I’m looking forward to England’s next games, a friendly in Germany on March 22nd and home to Lithuania a few days later. Southgate can use the Germany friendly to field the players where he wants them to be.

Gareth won’t see the players every week, so he’ll have to work closely with his staff and scouts. You have to play the right players up against the right opponents. You need to have a Plan A, Plan B and a Plan C. And then a Plan D. In the modern game, Plan A is not enough, you need options. Different plans, that you can shift to when you need to. That’s why training is so important. Training can be like hard work, but it is so important, to plan for winning matches.

Personally, I’m in a good place. I’m feeling safe and well. I’m working at Palace, a club I love. I’m doing some work and looking to do talks in schools about my life experiences, including showing a DVD of some career moments. So I’m in a good place and I hope it carries on. I’m taking life one day at a time and I’m doing well against my addictions. I have projects I am working on and I aim to keep it that way. The support has been fantastic and it means a lot to me.

I’ve been filming interviews towards a life story DVD and there are two film premiere dinners coming up, in London, where the film will be shown, on March 31 and April 7. There will be some special guests there too, so if you want to come along to meet me and share these special nights, please book now (I’m listed just after the Kerry Dixon events).

Child abuse in football: I count myself fortunate

I’m gobsmacked about the child abuse allegations in football. With computers now, you hear about paedophiles, but football? If anything had happened to me, I’d have spoken to my manager and my Mum. I was quite an aggressive kid, I’d have said something. I’m amazed that it was going on, even then. It’s come more to people’s knowledge now, with the internet. I couldn’t imagine it happening to me.

I’m amazed it’s taken so long for it to come out. We got coached and trained hard and worked hard. I’ve never heard anything. All the coaches were good and polite. I find it quite unreal. I’ve not heard of any Palace players involved from the past, from the reports in recent weeks. Most players my age, I‘d have thought nothing had happened. I count myself fortunate.

But it can happen in all walks of life. There’ll be many kids out there being sexually abused. The FA has to make sure that coaches are well interviewed, their family looked into. The interviews have to be much stricter. It has to be clear that sentences have to be stronger. There has to be warnings that if you’re caught, you are in deep trouble. Parents now will be thinking “I’d better go to training”. “What’s happening in the showers after training?” It’s pretty scary. It’s a big situation. We have to get our house in order, here in England.

With England on the pitch, Gareth Southgate’s done well in his four games and the FA have gone about things the right way. Now, if players aren’t turning up or aren’t bothered, they should not get picked anymore. “Get the taxi home”. Regarding drinking, if it’s a few drinks after a game it’s not so bad. When I was first in the England senior squad, I didn’t drink. We’d meet up on a Sunday night, with Ron Greenwood and he’d let us go off down the pub for a team talk. I didn’t drink then. I was the driver. I was drinking orange and lemonade. The following day, the papers would say I’d had eight pints!

If Gareth can get 90% out of the youngsters – and the senior players, help to get the best of them – he’ll do very well. Fabregas had great players around him when he started at Arsenal and he became great himself in two years. If Gareth can get the best out of that group of youngsters, we can do very well. It’s about individuals first: do your job. Then you can pass your intelligence around you. If you all do your job, then you’ve got a chance. He’s worked with the young players in this squad, I think he’s got a good chance. The one thing he’s got to do after every match is tell the truth. Be honest. If you go round the houses and pass off a poor performance, everyone can see through it.

At Man Utd, something has gone wrong with Mourinho. Only his family might know. Something is missing. When Wenger came to Arsenal, he’d be on the pitch at the end and hug his players. Mourinho at Chelsea, did the same. But if players aren’t happy, you can’t win anything. The Utd dressing room doesn’t sound healthy. They have some great players in that team. You’d think “Let’s attack teams”. There’s something definitely going wrong there. It might take someone coming out and saying it. At the end of the day, especially for most of the top players, they want to win. One might come out and say it as it is, either themselves or through a source.

I’ve heard rumours that if a manager has a go at one player, he tells his teammates and they turn against the manager. Players have power. I know one story with Stuart Pearce, when he was at Man City. A player of his had dived and Pearce agreed so, in a radio interview. The player later came to see Pearce and told him that he should’ve stood up for him. It turned out that the City fans backed the player on it, not Pearce. In football, the power is with the player. It used be Chairman, Manager, Player. Now it’s Player, Owner, Manager.

I can’t believe that Palace are going through runs of defeats and then runs of wins. When players start winning, they get confident. When players aren’t confident, they don’t always want the ball. I’ve seen Palace a few times this season and the closing down is first-class, but we’re soon giving the ball away. Puncheon has gone back up a couple of steps, he’s getting more involved. There is improvement there.

I know Pardew is working hard with the players on the training pitch. He’s invited me down to the training ground, to watch training and have some lunch together. I have some ideas and we’ll have a chat. There’s a few things I’d like to mention, in a nice football way. I’m very confident that Palace will turn it around and get wins against some of the teams around them. Home wins, Alan will plan around them. They’re certainly getting crosses in. I like Wickham and I’d like Palace to play two up front and encourage their teammates to get the ball into the box.

Arsenal are out of the League Cup and that’s a shame. When I was the captain and we won the League Cup in 1987, we’d gone without a trophy for eight years. To beat Liverpool was great. I understand the need to play youngsters, but eight changes? Tiredness for me is a load of rubbish. I’m told the players are fitter these days. Frank McLintock would play 60 matches a season, on muddy pitches. Modern players play on carpets. When you see Hull and Southampton in the semi-finals, if Arsenal had played a full side we could have been there too. When you make major changes, it’s not good for the fans. They want to see youngsters come through, but when you are in the quarter-finals you want to win the cup.

Generally though, Arsenal move the ball so quickly. Walcott has stepped up, no doubt. Giroud should play every game. Get in the crosses. We need to spot the small things, to help us get wins. Not just a plan B, but a plan C too. Play against the reserves and work on things like how do we come back from 2-0 down, get a shape. I think Arsenal have a chance to win the league this season. Teams are dropping points and it looks like a very open season. If a team can go eight games winning, they can win it.

Personally, I’m in the best place I’ve been in for some time. I’m being positive. I’m doing an interview with ITN next week. I want to work. I want to tell my story, I think it’s interesting. Presentations with ex-players, dinners, lunches, golf days, that sort of thing. The better the shot, the better the joke! It’s ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’. There was a lot of good – playing as a schoolboy, being at Palace, joining a big club like Arsenal and then England. Drinking took over from my football and that was the bad. The ugly took over my whole life. I lost my life and had time sleeping on the streets. That’s the ugly side of it, from where I was at, at 15. The gap between the good and the ugly is not very nice.

All my stories are true and honest, because I was at them all! I was there! I honestly feel that I do not want to get drunk ever again. I can be funny sober. I have to take one day at a time but I know that if I am working regularly it will help to keep me in a good place. I write things in a pad, to help to keep myself positive, small things that help me. I’d like a write a diary and maybe turn it into a book. I do Palace home games and I’m doing a radio show this weekend with Stan Collymore. I’m enjoying telling people about my football career. I’d like to write my story, in my words.

Getting drunk doesn’t suit me anymore

I know there have been reports recently, saying that I’m living on the streets and that I might need to have my leg amputated. Let me clear this up a bit!

Firstly, I want people to know that I’m in a good place, I’m staying with a friend. I don’t want people to think that I am just living on the street, all the time. It’s true that I did have some nights sleeping on the street, but not too many. A lot of people did help me out, so it wasn’t too many nights. One day, for example, an ambulance picked me up – I think I was lying in a bus stop somewhere – and they took me to a McDonald’s for a cup of tea. On another night, a friend tried to help me get a hotel room, I didn’t have any money, but there weren’t any rooms. The receptionist let me sit for a while and I was there till the morning. I don’t want to get in that state again. I intend not to have to sleep on the street anymore! That is down to me not to get in that position.

I know there have been reports that I might need to have my foot or my leg amputated. Thankfully, that is not quite the case! I’d had a few bad days and I had a verruca. It was annoying me and rather than go to the doctors or hospital, I have to say I picked it off, but I infected it. It went down to the bone and that can be very dangerous. I wasn’t thinking about taking my tablets, my medication for my diabetes, the drink took the pain away. But I got cream and antibiotics and my foot is much much better now. The swelling and infection has gone. I don’t think my foot is going to be amputated any time soon! I love walking and I wouldn’t want that to happen.

A couple of people have said things to me and I’ve realised that drink doesn’t suit me anymore. Getting drunk doesn’t suit me anymore. I used to be a funny drunk, but now I am not a nice person in that way. I’m not a nice person when I’m drunk. That’s what I have realised. I know that when I’ve been drinking I have been verbally abusive to some people, especially on the phone. I have apologised to those people. It’s given me a big incentive to not want to get drunk or gamble.

I’m 58 years old, it’s taken me a long long time to realise what I’ve got to do. Football was easy, but I’m taking control now. I’ve got to stop getting drunk. I haven’t gambled for a while either. The combination of the two has ruined some of my life, but I have the opportunity to get it back a bit. If I don’t go and get drunk or gamble, and get some work in, I’ll be happier. I want to be happy and I want to make other people happy. I’ve got to be strong with myself. I’ve got to do it myself. I’ve got to be stronger.

The last few years I’ve not been strong enough. I took drinking and gambling as the easy way out. It makes me forget. My life, all the things that life throws at you, when I was drinking I could forget it. I’d get drunk and that’s why I’d get drunk the next day. People have said to me “Ken, you’ve got so much to give”, but I couldn’t see it. But I feel better and I’m hoping this time that it’s going to work. I really hope in myself . When you have addictions, it’s not that easy. I just hope I can carry on being positive and can get people back on my side. I want to say thank you to all the people that have helped me.

By me having a clearer mind on my drinking, I have been interested by the stories about Wayne Rooney’s drinking. To me it looks like he was at the bar till late, he wanted a drink and to relax. They might have been talking football. I don’t think there’s anything to worry about. If Wayne has a drinking problem, only he and his family will know. If he does, I’d expect it would come out in the next month or so. I think the Rooney incident has possibly been blown out of proportion. The combination of his form for United and England and the drinking has come together to make the story a lot bigger than if it was someone playing very well. Maybe the story wouldn’t have been as big, if it had been a player on top form. Hopefully he has good people around him, that are not letting him be affected by it.

Rooney was drinking after the game, we used to drink before games! Now it gets in the press. When we used to do it, it was very rarely in the press. When I started to play for England, I didn’t drink. When I joined the squad, I heard a story about Trevor Brooking. We would meet on a Sunday, have dinner and our team meeting and then go to the pub for a few drinks. The story goes that one of the players, maybe Terry McDermott, said to Brooking “What do you want to drink Trevor?” Trevor said “I’ll have a Coke.” So we asked him “Do you want anything in it?” Meaning vodka, or gin. “Oh, yes please. I’ll have ice.” That’s what it was like, it was a boys’ night out.

Once I was an established member of the England squad, we’d often have a drink after the game and on the plane home. That was mostly relaxation. Some maybe had a few more than others, but generally most of the players would have a few drinks and it wouldn’t be a problem. It was more about bonding, having enjoyed the match.

I think Gareth Southgate has done very well. He’ll need to address our mistakes, in defence, as obviously better teams will beat you. You can’t be perfect, but you have to make as few mistakes as you can. Southgate has good experience with the Under-21s, but he has things to address defensively. We have talented young players. We need the experienced players, like Hart and Rooney, to get the most out of them. When Fabregas was at Arsenal as a youngster, he had the likes of Henry, Pires and Bergkamp around him. Southgate needs to get the best players helping the youngsters. They need experience around them. I think Gareth will do a good job.

I thought the performance against Scotland was okay and the three goals were fantastic. It was a great win, 3-0 against your biggest rivals. They will always add 10-15% more to their game. There were some nerves. It’s alright to be nervous, I used to get nervous. It made me feel that I wanted to concentrate more and didn’t want to make mistakes. But if a whole team is nervous, that can ruin your performance. Scotland did have chances. That’s a worry, as without disrespect, England are a much stronger team, but at 1-0 nerves played their part for England.

Spain was also a good performance. We were in control at 2-0. Whereas Spain took their chances, Scotland didn’t. We took our foot off the gas. If you’re 2-0 up, keep the ball. You don’t have to go for 3-0, but make them chase you, don’t give it up. It’s a great training session to get reserves to put the first team under pressure, to train players to get used to handling pressure. That’s a great session for learning how to have two or three passes available to you.

In terms of Arsenal, I think Utd v Arsenal will be a great game. Utd have great individuals, but Arsenal have a great team. If United’s individuals turn it on, they could win, but Arsenal have more consistency. The match could come down to the managers! How the managers take this on and set their teams could be crucial. This is how they get their money. I don’t think the two managers love each other, but I do suspect Mourinho and Wenger do have mutual respect. Mourinho has complained about Wenger getting a lot of respect and him not getting enough. But first you have to respect yourself.

It’s a massive match. Arsenal have a great chance I believe to win the title. They’re passing the ball quickly and getting the crosses in. You don’t know what will happen. Like when Chelsea beat United 4-0. Arsenal could put United under pressure. I think Arsenal have a great chance this year.

I’m going to Palace v Man City and it’s a massive game for both teams. I imagine Palace might settle for a draw, City will expect to win. City have players to win matches, but Palace have started very well this season. They’re doing what I really wanted them to do, they’re getting lots of crosses in. They’ve got Benteke in and I’ve seen him saying to the wingers “Get the crosses in”. If Palace can keep getting crosses in, they can put City under pressure. They have to do it to win the game.

I’ve really enjoyed putting this blog together and showing you how well I’m doing. I’m enjoying the season and I intend to do more blogs like these as the season progresses.

The FA needs to employ more ex-players

It’s amazing there isn’t a new England coach yet. You’d think the FA would have had someone in mind before the Euros. In case Hodgson was wanting to retire, you’d think somebody would be in place. Just to have a general chat with someone before the tournament and see if they’d be interested, just in case. So I’m surprised there’s nobody in the role.

If they’d have spoken to Gareth Southgate before the tournament, they’d have known if he was interested, rather than finding out after Roy went that Gareth didn’t want to be the caretaker. This is where having ex-players on board would really help.

More players should be involved and employed by the FA, because they have the skills and the experience. Former players know what to look for during training. The more that are involved, the more they have to offer. Sterling was mentioned during the Euros for lacking confidence, but I felt there was more to it. Former players can help to find the answers. They know the game.

Sam Allardyce and Steve Bruce are in the frame. Both Sam and Steve are English and I think that’s important. Both have managed at a high level. They look to be strong characters. I’ve met them and played against them, they’re very nice blokes and very good managers.

You’ve got to be strong to deal with players. Modern players are superstars. You have to make sure that players do want to play for their country. You have to want to do it. It’s vital that players listen to the management and staff.

If I say to Rooney “I just want you to do a particular job”, you need him to do it, not say he wants to do something else. I’m just being honest. I’m not singling out Rooney, it’s just an example. You need players to want to play for their country and do what the manager asks.

There can be disagreements between football players, like anywhere in life, but that needs to be knocked on the head for the greater good of the England team.

I know Glenn Hoddle very well and Bruce and Allardyce are good managers, but I just believe that the FA needs more ex-players working for them. For example, I know that Allardyce and my mate Peter Reid are good friends. Peter could give Sam very helpful opinions at training. It would be Sam’s decision, but that knowledge is so important.

Little things matter. Whatever you do for your club, you need to help players at international level too. Learn there and then that helps you at club level too. You can always learn in anything and that includes those tiny things that you can pick up from your international teammates.

I think the FA needs ex-pros in every region, with a responsibility to help players in their area, through their experience. Players can have issues and they need a different face, a change of scene, to fix them. Somebody different to talk to, who has experience. Nice and casual, nothing heavy, just informal. These things can help.

If a player is playing for say a Chelsea or a Liverpool, a local ex-player in that area could go and meet him and have a nice chat. For example, in south-east London I could be ideal for helping young pros who have alcohol or gambling problems. You can help them, change the subject, get them feeling more positive again.

There’s a lot of money in football, so you have to make the most of the knowledge in the game. When Rio Ferdinand had his drug test problem, Bryan Robson could have helped him, with his experience. Robbo was the best I played for, he’d have been a great help for Rio.

Since England have been knocked out of the Euros, so many people have come up to me and wanted to know my opinion. Fans know when players are not doing their job. I’m amazed Portugal won the tournament. Usually the best team wins.

The tournament wasn’t top drawer. When you look at England, as a team, I thought England could win it. But that’s not always how it works out. But this is why I think that the FA and England would benefit so much from bringing more ex-players into the set-up.

Wales have the team spirit to reach the final

These Euros have been quite cagey so far and I don’t think the semis will be any different. It’s been a fascinating tournament: the surprise achievements of some teams and the disappointment of some others.

It was great to see Iceland score two goals against France, after doing it against England. That shows it wasn’t a one-off. They’ve been very exciting.

Portugal vs Wales is up first. I’m going for Wales. I think Portugal have been very average. I think Wales have the team spirit.

Aaron Ramsey is missing and that is a big miss, but Chris Coleman has been fantastic and it’s important that the camp don’t talk too much about missing Ramsey. They’ve got a good squad to cope. They don’t want to make it their excuse.

I remember a great story with Bobby Robson, from Mexico ’86, before the Paraguay game. Ray Wilkins was suspended and Bryan Robson had done his shoulder, both against Morocco. Bobby relaxed us nicely and we were feeling really good. Then he said calmly: “Don’t worry about those 60 million people watching at home”. It’s a classic! But he meant it. In a good way!

Bale against Ronaldo will be on people’s minds. Bale will be there for his team. He will win that challenge, Ronaldo will come second.

Germany vs France: everybody might have fancied this for the final and the Germans are so good at getting their tactics right, no matter who is the manager. France have great individuals. This is a manager’s game for me.

The managers will play a massive, massive part. It’s obviously the players who do it on the pitch, but it’ll be about who gets it right on the day. I’ve got to go Germany. They’ve got more options in their group of players for me.

So that means a Germany v Wales final. In 1966, that was a World Cup Final between England and Germany and this could be another home nation, playing Germany in a major final. I’d like to congratulate Wales. Even if they’re not in the final yet! But I think they can get there.

Can Iceland keep their cool? They won’t freeze!

I was really looking forward to the quarter-finals, but with England out it feels gone for me. I was very excited. I hope Wales do well. There’s no judgement for me for how they celebrated England going out, that’s human nature. I was looking forward to England having a really long stay in this tournament. No England players spoke after we went out and that was a bit of a disappointment, in my opinion.

First up is Poland v Portugal on Thursday night. It’s one of those games where if Poland do their job, they should win the game. I think Poland are very organised and very committed. I think they go onto the pitch with the attitude of “we’re not going to lose”. If either team is going to win in in 90 minutes, it’s Poland for me. Portugal have been very average.

For me, in all three group games, Portugal have done nothing to impress me. I don’t think they’ve got that extra step. Ronaldo, for me, has been poor. All he does is put his hands up like he’s moaning all the time. It’s like he’s moaning because he hasn’t got the ball. He hasn’t played a part yet, for me. Against Poland, Portugal are going to find it very hard. Poland’s better attitude on the football pitch will get them through. 2-1 Poland.

Game two is Wales v Belgium on Friday. This game, along with Germany v Italy, are the games that people will look forward to. Wales have been fantastic. On individual players, Belgium are better, but individuals don’t always win you games. I think it will be a tense yet very exciting game. It could be a classic 0-0 after 90 minutes. I get a sneaky feeling that one of the goalkeepers could be outstanding.

It’s obviously fantastic to score first and then it’s up to the management to decide if a side should go for a second goal. That’s where talking comes into it. The first goal is important, but that is where if you score in the first five minutes you should go for the quick second. I think this one will go to extra time.

Will Ashley Williams be fit? Will he last the whole game? That would be a concern for me. Belgium look to be improving all the time. Wales need their first XI to stay on the pitch, for as long as possible.

I think Bale will go out and play hard for his team. Speak to his teammates, encourage them and do what he does for club and country. See if Belgium are willing to give him free-kicks! Ramsey is good at free-kicks too. Both of these two teams have the ability to win this match. It’s the toughest call for me.

I want Wales to win. Chris Coleman has done a terrific job. And I forgive them for their celebrations! I’ll go for a Wales win in extra-time. That’s my heart saying that! My head says, it’s so close! I really thought it could be a Wales v England final. Wales work so hard for each other.

Saturday sees Germany v Italy. I’m surprised that Germany have never beaten Italy in competitive matches, but Saturday can be the day. The Italians are so well organised, but I just see the Germans opening them up. Out of the teams left, Germany are possibly the only team left that could. Germany are loving the occasion. Italy, they don’t do it very often, but I think they might freeze a little bit.

Muller’s still got it. I think Germany will go for it and have that extra little factor. They both have big strikers, in Gomez and Pelle, but I have also been very impressed by the German number 11, Julian Draxler. Some of the things he did, his vision, his dribbling skills. The Germans love going forward and will cause Italy problems form the start. I think Germany will have a plan for how to break Italy down. When the Germans are in the zone, they are very hard to beat for me. I think Germany are going to win 2-0.

The last quarter-final comes on Sunday, France v Iceland. Can Iceland keep their cool? They won’t freeze! I think Iceland will be over the moon with the result over England, but France have so many fantastic individuals. I think the management will say “Just go and perform”. There’s no doubt in my mind that the French will win. I think France have individuals that will turn up on the day.

Only Roy Hodgson knows why our players didn’t turn up on the day, against Iceland. I think that France, if they need to step up, then they can. With the individual strength that France have got, they are going to overpower Iceland. At some stage, it’s got to get to Iceland, especially if France perform the way they can. I think France will win 3-0. It’s an unexpected last eight, but we could have one of the big outsiders possibly winning the tournament.

Just to update, after the first game: I did think Poland could be that surprise team that wins it and I wouldn’t have said that at the start of the tournament. Now, they’re out! I have a sneaky feeling for a Wales v Germany final. I’d love to see Wales win it and I do think england fans would be pleased for them.

It’s good to talk: England were like a silent movie!

My expectations against Iceland were to get an early goal and maybe win 3 or 4-0. That would show our opponents that our earlier results were a bit unlucky. We missed chances in the first three games. Once Iceland scored their goals, we seemed to collapse. It was like a boxing match. We knocked them down and then they got up and knocked us down twice.

I remember playing in 1982, against France in the World Cup. We practised me doing a throw-on and Terry Butcher would flick it on. The goal we got was then on the right, Steve Coppell took the throw-on and Bryan Robson scored after 17 seconds.

England have been criticised for Iceland’s first goal, but you’ve got to give Iceland credit. They felt that they were in the match and it gave them the confidence to score the second goal. But I would criticise us defensively there: Joe Hart should have saved the shot. We should have got a block in, before Hart needed to save the shot. Overall, it was poor defensively.

There is a lot of pressure on players at times. Hart is a fantastic goalkeeper, but both goals were to his left-hand side. Goalkeepers tend to have a favourite side and now Hart appears to have a weakness to his left.

I used to play in goal as a youngster and Gordon Banks was my hero. That famous save he made from Pele, at the 1970 World Cup, was on Banks’s favourite side. I picked that up as a youngster.

I still thought “we can win this” but as time went on I thought “we’re not doing our jobs”. Everyone seemed to look at each other, but not say anything. It was like a silent movie! We all know – not just football, not just sport – there needs to be talking. There was no talking, no arguments. If you put all that together, that’s a major problem for winning a football match.

For instance, when Wayne Rooney first came on the scene, as a 17 year-old, he’d get booked making a silly challenge trying to win the ball back. He’d get criticised, but for me that showed passion. Against Iceland, I didn’t see that in Wayne Rooney.

Rooney did well in the first three games, he controlled the second half against Wales. As the captain, he should start the banter on the pitch, the talking. Terry Butcher would have been shouting “Come on lads!” When the fans go quiet, you know you’re not playing well. I think Rooney’s international future is in the balance, in my opinion.

Joe Hart is a very experienced goalkeeper, but I didn’t hear him shout “Let’s get it forward”. There was no enthusiasm. I’d expect the players on the bench, in the technical area, to get shouting, for something to happen. But the spirit was dead. It was very frustrating watching it.

As a player myself, if I wasn’t doing it, I’d expect Terry Butcher or Bryan Robson to be shouting at me. That’s what every England fan would have been expecting too, but it wasn’t happening.

Me with Glenn Hoddle - in our younger days!

Me with Glenn Hoddle – in our younger days!

The lack of a mid-season break is no excuse. I don’t think there is any excuse for the performance. Every single player must look at themselves and ask “did I do my job”? I think the answer would be “no”, by everyone. That goes for the staff as well.

There’s been talk of the players lacking belief in the management and Hodgson has denied this, but the management should know about that, from the training pitch and around the hotel. You’ve got to learn about people, what gives them that little gee-up. If you do the little things in life, the bad things won’t happen.

You’ve got to know each other. I roomed with Graham Rix and he was quite a close friend with me, during my time with Arsenal and England. He’d know how many sugars I’d want in my tea. We could tell each other where we were going wrong. In the Iceland game, that spirit was vanishing as the game went on.

Hodgson has now gone and the FA has got to make a proper decision, for a manager who can get the best out of the players, which Hodgson didn’t do in this tournament. Whoever they go for, the new manager has got to be honest and open. The FA has to take responsibility too. It’s a massive group effort. If they rush into an appointment, it’s a mistake in my opinion.

I would love to be involved in some way, as I believe I have something to offer. I’m in a very good place now and people keep telling me I have something to offer. I have the knowledge to help. I’ve been studying football and I hope my website has opened people’s eyes. If I can help in any way, I’d love to help.

Gareth Southgate appears to be the current favourite and he coached the England under-21s to win the Toulon Tournament this summer. No disrespect to him, but I don’t think he is good enough to manage the full England international team. I look to the FA to appoint someone with presence, to make players perform, in every international.

We need someone who can get us to focus and know those players, inside out. The staff as well. The staff are just as important as the manager, in my opinion. We need someone with a football brain. ‘Should I start him, or have him as a sub’? The likes of Bill Shankly and Brian Clough had the power to make players perform how they needed. We need someone in that mould, plus the football brain of Terry Venables.

I’m saying Glenn Hoddle, Bryan Robson, Terry Butcher – get them together and between the three of them, they would bring success from the very talented group of players that we have. I know some fans might say “he would say that” and that those three might not be well-regarded as having been successful managers, but I know what they have got.

When you get them together, the FA needs to tell them what they want. The conversation should be intense. Not just an hour, but a lot longer. The FA should get them in a nice restaurant, have a nice meal and a nice chat and get to learn about those people. The FA now has to make the right decision. P.S. if you need any help, just give me a call!

This is just the beginning for England

There was a lot of talk about England changing six players, but Roy obviously felt that he wanted to change the full-backs and we were quite good defensively. He wanted to be a bit more aggressive too, with Wilshere, and I thought he played quite well. But the changes didn’t make any difference to the result. The way Slovakia defended, their fans will be over the moon.

But on the other hand, we qualified. The most exciting thing for me is that I think there are more exciting things to come for us in this tournament. This is just the beginning. When you play in the group stages, you know you need to get through the group. When it’s the knockout stages, you know you have to score to be sure of getting through.

I don’t think this England team will be nervous. The players have experience now. Roy will know that we need to step things up a little bit and put the ball in the back of the net. The experience of the last three games will be fantastic for the players.

When I looked at the team and the performance, I thought the understanding between the lads was very good. There’s improvement needed, to make the special chances, so that Kane and Sturridge and Vardy and Rashford can put the ball in the back of the net. But the players are all aware of what they have to do.

Over the next few days the players will look over the videos and watch the games and talk during training, to try different things. It’s not about fitness now. I don’t think they’ve played badly in any way. I don’t think we played badly against Russia. We could have won three games on the trot. All we have to do is step up, tiny little things. They are all small things, but they are all very important.

The right-backs have been our best players so far. We are an attacking side. Defensively we haven’t had too many problems. We’re getting the full-backs forward, but we need to avoid getting too crowded. We need to allow a little more space around our attacking options. We just need to step up our decisions in the final third. Roy and his coaches need to talk to the players, to help them to learn about each other a little bit better.

You have to work hard on the training ground

You have to work hard on the training ground

Communication and information are very important. I’ve said it from day one – we have the talent to go all the way in this competition. Like in all walks of life, we need a little bit of luck. In all three games, the players have put the effort in. I really feel so confident. I think we have nothing to fear. I’m looking forward to watching the next game. As a squad, if we keep doing what we’ve been doing, we’re going to go a long way.

Being mentally tired can affect players on the pitch. That’s where the manager and the staff should notice these things in training. If Kane for example looks tired, you have to be honest. “Vardy, you’re playing. Harry, I can see you need a rest”. These things must be picked up very quickly. It’s part of being the manager and the staff to pick these things up. These things give you the edge.

Gary Lineker is a fantastic example. He was a terrible trainer, but he enjoyed playing and enjoyed scoring goals! Tiny things can be massive at international level. At club level, there’s time to know the players. There’s less time to know these things at international level. It’s important for the staff to see if players are happy. You want your international players to go out there full of confidence, ready to do their job.

The whole England squad should feel confident and relaxed. Whoever we get in the next round, they should fear us. They might say “Well, England have only scored a few goals”, but they will be scared about us. Other teams will be worried about us. Roy should say “Go out and do what you’ve been doing in the last three games – and score a few goals!”

There’s been nothing wrong with the last three performances. The England squad we’ve got are good enough to go through to the final of the competition.